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‘Clients will come and go, but you’ll work with these people for 40 or 50 years’

This boutique firm owner believes in the importance of instilling values of collegiality and respect for fellow legal practitioners in other firms and in taking a people-centred approach to running a firm.

user iconJess Feyder 13 October 2022 Big Law
‘Clients will come and go, but you’ll work with these people for 40 or 50 years’
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Recently on The Boutique Lawyer Show, Bradley & Bray director Jacob Corbett discussed the most significant lessons he’s learned from managing a firm.

Mr Corbett discussed that learning how to deal with people, and with conflict, plays a large role in managing his firm successfully.  

“One of the big values I’ve taken away is that the way that you deal with people will continue to reverberate through.


“I’m not sure what it’s like in other areas, but the Sunshine Coast is a relatively small cohort of professionals, so it’s really important to treat everyone with an understanding that these are going to be your colleagues going forward.

He noted the importance of creating a really good group of colleagues around you and treating them fairly and with respect.

“We’re in law, so it can get heated at times, but the clients are going to come, the clients are going to go, but you’re going to need to work with these people, possibly for 30 [or] 40 [or] 50 years,” he said.

“I try to instil that in all of my younger staff here when they are dealing with other practitioners.

Going about it this way makes a legal career a lot easier, he added. 

Another lesson Mr Corbett emphasised relates to managing people within the firm.

“I always thought of the approach I would take as a business owner, and in the end, it’s completely flipped. Now, I like to centre my approach as a business owner around my people.

“Businesses always say that, right? ‘We’re a people-centred firm’, but I’m really starting to understand what that means. It’s putting people first so that they can put the clients first.

“That’s something that has really come through a lot stronger than I originally gave it credit for, but it is quite pertinent,” he said. “That’s probably been my biggest lesson as a business owner to date.”

For Mr Corbett, part of putting people first is being open to innovations that make work easier for his employees. 

“Once you start to be quite open and receptive to innovation and change, and you put that at the forefront of your business model, you will start allowing time to run other parts of your business more effectively,” he said, “and the staff will love you for it”.

It makes things easier for them, he noted; the staff would much rather get back to doing what they should be doing. 

“It promotes a cohesive culture within the firm, and your staff will eventually start bringing you new innovations, and you won’t have to be looking for them,” he said.